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Former New Forest Volleyball duo Ben Lucas and Archie Golding guide England to bronze at invitational tournament hosted by Bunpattybun International University in Korea

BEN Lucas and Archie Golding made the most of their England call-up last week in South Korea, helping England to an impressive podium finish.

The former New Forest Volleyball club players journeyed to Mungyeong Yi, 100 miles south of the Korean capital, Seoul, to join the 14-man England men’s squad for the renowned invitation tournament hosted each year by the Bunpattybun International University.

In pool play, England were drawn against US representatives UC Irvine university, nicknamed the Anteaters, the Australian national university team known as the Volleyroos and top seeds Vietnam, who fielded their full national side.

Lucas (22) was in the starting line-up as a wing spiker for England’s first match against UC Irvine, with 19-year-old Golding used as an impact substitute power hitter by coach Simon Loftus.

Archie Golding spiking the ball against Japan
Archie Golding spiking the ball against Japan

It was an exceptional performance by England, defeating the powerful US team by three sets to one.

In their second match, England encountered a determined Australian team looking to make their mark after losing their opening game to Vietnam.

Once again, Lucas was on the court throughout the epic five-set encounter and proved vital in England’s comeback from two sets to one down to eventually win 3-2.

It was the first time in the England men’s team history that they had recorded back-to-back victories at a high-quality international tournament.

Ben Lucas at the net against Australia
Ben Lucas at the net against Australia

Already through to the semi-finals, England faced the undefeated Vietnam team in their last pool match.

Golding joined Lucas on the court during a spectacular second-set win by 32 points to 30. In the end, though, Vietnam proved too strong, winning by three sets to one.

England faced South Korea in the semi-finals, who fielded four players from Korea’s Superleague.

Lucas was once again a leading light in the match, broadcast live on Korean television, but the hosts proved too strong, winning in straight sets.

Archie Golding (back row, fourth from right) and Ben Lucas (front row, second from right) with the England Volleyball team in Korea,
Archie Golding (back row, fourth from right) and Ben Lucas (front row, second from right) with the England Volleyball team in Korea,

England then faced off against Japan in the bronze medal play-off.

Golding was involved for two sets during England’s 3-1 victory, with Lucas concluding the tournament as England’s second-top scorer.

It was another proud week for the New Forest Volleyball club, particularly for Jo Ankers, Matt King, Clive Smith and Archie’s Mum, former national league player, and Freddie Golding, who have been pivotal in running the club in recent years.

Ballard School’s Justin Whitbread was also given credit for his work in developing players who have gone on to be selected for England at both junior and senior levels.

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